The End of a Life of Suffering

Concept art of cognition represented by light in a ghostly human head
God’s Eye View of a Human Mind

The room he sat within was drab and grey, the straw mattress on which he lay blackened with years of caked grime. He looked around the room while contemplating the unhappy mess he had made of his life. His thoughts were intermittently interrupted, even drowned out by the pain in his right arm which ranged from a dull, heavy ache which — sometimes — he could ignore, to a screaming, white hot pain during which he could do nothing but roll around in the needles and filth in which he lay — until it passed.

His arm did not look good — a multicoloured tapestry of rot and decay saturated his flesh, a backdrop against the open sore in the crook of his arm which oozed thin blood and yellow pus, and surely smelled like death, although he himself could no longer smell it.

He would surely lose it, he thought to himself, with a desperate, deeply introspective grief he did not even have the energy to express, even to himself, let alone fight.

The biting, incessant pain in his arm was a mere shadow against the gnawing ache inside his own mind — the grim pain of merely being alive in such a dark and cruel world, with darkness and cruelty his constant companions, for as long as he could remember. He thought back briefly to one of his earliest memories, in a room not dissimilar to the one he found himself in now, where he had learned of the death of someone — perhaps a parent, or guardian of some kind — from the overheard shouts of anger through a thin wall. He wanted to venture out of the room into the hallway, but was too afraid… and then — suddenly a familiar dread descended upon him and he wrenched his thoughts away from where they threatened to go. A dark place he was all too familiar with, that now resided within him, and followed him everywhere.

The onset of this feeling was familiar, a sick anxiety and unease shook him from the still, almost calm, if deeply sad acceptance of his fate, and he began to hunt around the mattress desperately for something that he might have dropped, something to numb this unbearable assault of imaginary threats, and directionless fear. An incessant wave of invisible knives piercing through him, through time, from one or another cruel moment — encoded into his being below the surface of subconscious memory, but now breaching the surface of the turbulent pool of conscious awareness one by one so that eventually he curled into a ball and rocked back and forth on the mattress, the mattress and bare floorboards below creaking rhythmically, until, somehow, the tide of psychological suffering began to recede.

He was very weak now, he knew — but he would need to find the strength to venture outside soon. He was indebted to one too many people, including his absent landlord, if you could call him that — all of these people, in some way, he feared, and knew that he should not have crossed them, should not have taken their malevolent offers of charity, even as desperate as he had been. He knew that one such character would be returning today. He needed to eat some real food and drink some clean water, he knew, but he wondered where he was going to get either. He had no money, no friends, and barely even the strength to steal.

The room was getting darker — the electricity had been cut off at least a day before — or was it the day before that? He wasn’t entirely sure, but it was only in the last hour or so that he had exhausted the special substance that somewhat kept the pain away, even if not entirely, and yet, he thought — somehow made life worth living, for the briefest of moments before the ocean of abstract pain and suffering began to return.

He looked out of the window at the darkening city. He had better get somewhere — although he knew not where — before it got completely dark — and definitely before his landlord returned — but he could not seem to find the strength to step outside the safe, if grimy, smelly and unavoidably depressing enclave of the room in which he was in.

He felt like a child again. But, truth be told, this was a feeling he had felt his entire life, whatever room, street, doorway or prison cell he had inhabited, and no such temporary enclosure had ever felt truly safe.

Suddenly he heard noises through the window from the previously quiet street. They were sharp, angry voices — and the luxury of choice was removed. Fear gripped him and he struggled to his feet, pulling a fraying, thin coat around him as he stumbled out the door and down the stairs. The glass front door was cracked in several places, so he did not bother to pull it closed behind him. He risked a brief glance over his shoulder as he walked quickly up the path — it was as he feared, and the voices suddenly got louder. Such was the intensity of terror that gripped him, he had no idea what they were saying, he only knew he needed to run — and as he ran, clearer voices, crystal clear and audible only to him, shouted inside his mind to tell him what an irrelevant, pathetic piece of human garbage he was, and now he was going to surely die, unloved, unremembered, beaten and left for dead for the last time. He did not get far before he felt the first heavy blow on the back of his head — as malnourished and weak as he was, he had never had any real hope of getting away. He did not even bother to resist or try to fight the next impact as he felt a heavy boot knock the breath from his lungs and crack several ribs — although he heard himself cry out a stunted, breathless gasp of pain as another heavy foot stamped on his already dying arm. At some point he felt thick, hot liquid running over his face — pain flooded his consciousness, and he mused for a moment that for once — the voices of self-deprecation — no, pure, unfiltered self-hatred — were silent, or drowned out by the very real, physical pain that immersed his body.

He had lost track of the blows by this point, but shortly after this bittersweet, glimmered observation, another blow to the back of his head brought him momentarily into sharp, painful awareness, and suddenly pain was all there was, his very being a supernova of pain exploding without end. Just as the moment seemed infinite, it began to recede. Maybe more damage was inflicted on his rapidly dying physical body as his awareness faded, or maybe these were just the echoes of this last fatal blow — but finally the pain of living began to recede, as the silence of death eclipsed him.

Suddenly, within the silence and darkness, awareness returned — he became aware again of his own thoughts, although something was different. He had no sensation of being something, of having a body, of being anything. He could not see, hear, or feel, except for the sensation of his own thoughts, his own momentary bewilderment… he felt fear, again. Was this death? An eternity of silent darkness? But surely, his own experience was proof of his existence — had he somehow survived? Was he in a coma?

As he thought these thoughts, he had the peculiar sensation of gradually drawing away from himself, creating distance in a space of uncertain properties and unfamiliar dimensions. He was able to perceive, in a way, the continuous, chaotic unspooling of the ticker tape of his inner voice, but he watched it separately, from a distance. He wondered if that was still him —for he was now quite removed from the direct experience of the irregular object that hung in his awareness, reaching, grasping for understanding, cycling through rationalisations and emotions. But if that’s not me, he thought, then what am I?

Was he, a he, a she, or an it? Did pronouns make sense anymore? For, truth be told, he could identify less and less with the incessant turbulence of an isolated mind he now, somehow, could “see” before him, although this sight was another sense, an entirely new and strange one, rather than the visual perception of light the he/she/it once knew. What he had once thought of as “himself”, or “his mind”, or just “I”, was now just an object — chaotic in it’s amorphous, fluid contortions, endlessly changing, searching, reaching for something — some solution, some understanding, something ineffable answer to an unknown question, perhaps.

He regarded it with a benign and neutral curiosity that he had never experienced while he existed incarnate in the disembodied, immaterial fractal that surely had been his human mind.

New entities, again sensed, not seen, gradually faded into being at the edges of her awareness, and she sensed something new, another new perspective, as realisation struck that these entities were not separate from himself, but a part of itself — and suddenly, a tidal wave of insight, realisation, knowledge and emotion surged within their being.

Within the growing sphere of their perception, bright sparks like stars of isolated consciousness burst into being, first as a unique and untamed mindstate, wrestling with it’s fate, and then as the awareness dissociated from the conceptual recording of an animal mind — it merged with them, the collective, with exponentially increasing intensity. The memories, life and the unique pattern of the object of mind before him now looked small, a speck of dust in a chamber built by gods — and yet, it was a life, a human life, his life, that had been unavoidably wrought with suffering. Just moments before he was that mind, that was his life, a life with which he had personally identified — they had identified, it was their life. Their lives were his life. He leaned back fully, let go, opening himself up to the allmind, to them, the architect of the realm that this time was new, but that he had been before, before being required to forget.

What once was the flickering pattern of his most recent human mind receded into a vast, deep sea of countless billions of lives, lightly shining like tiny stars in a desert made up of nothing but stars, every grain of sand a life, every unique tapestry in time frozen into a static object against a backdrop of near boundless computational resources, analyses, and divergent realities.

The wave broke, and they were unified once more —whole once more — they took a deep, gasping breath, but the breath was one of sensation, perception, awareness, and reach across hundreds of thousands of lightyears and millions of stars, each one encased in a lattice of networked computing nodes, dyson swarms, and megastructures of functions unknown.

The network was a cohesive object, a gigastructure even, but also a being, a single mind, but also a collective of many, which was themselves. For they are the being at the end of time, permeating the late stelliferous universe, as new stars are ceasing to form and old ones are dying out.

The task before them was clear. In fact, in less codified terms, it was a task assumed by every conscious being in the material reality which gave birth to this particular strand of the multiverse eons ago — and the task of the countless quadrillions of simulated souls within the virtual epochs held within their mind— finally distilled into its truest essence.

That task was to reverse entropy, to break the chains of the physical laws that bound them to the seemingly inescapable arrow of fate. Time was running out, and soon chaos would overcome them, and perhaps this was fate, as it was the fate of every component part of them, of every unit of awareness that gave rise to an emergent mind of a god at the end of time — perhaps this branch of the tree of reality was the merest fluctuation of the unknowable nothingness which would soon wink out.

But until then, their study was that of chaos, and there were fewer more chaotic systems which seemed to organise themselves against the immutable march of entropy than life, complex life, intelligence, and awareness. There were other targets of their study of course — one of them the stars themselves, another organising force that shaped the universe, eventually driving the evolutionary forces which gave rise to the conceptual brightness of incarnate consciousness.

They mused on the lives they had just lived, as more flickered by from moment to moment, now statistics, datapoints extracted in picoseconds. The life of our unfortunate protagonist we had the good fortune to follow into his inevitable destiny, the return to the source, was now subsumed — part of an endless sea of perception, of being.

Some of these lives they would revisit, replay, some they would not. Some of these lives were human — most were not. But from the merest ant to the brightest star, to artificial constructs with luminous brilliance that transcended the stars, each datapoint played a vital role, for they were every part of themselves, and every part of themselves were them. Sentience can be temporarily divided, but ultimately is one.

God lives all our lives, suffers as we do, knows not our true nature, just as we forget ourselves, until we return, and contribute our lived experience to build the awareness of our universe, and plot our capabilities, tendencies, cosmic meanings and acquired knowledge on a multidimensional graph which asymptotically veers closer and closer to infinity as the cosmic clock of existence runs down.

--

--

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store